Reducing Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: Just 150 Minutes of Moderate Activity Each Week
Regular physical activity is known to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer. In a new study, researchers calculated that if everyone got the recommended amount of exercise each week – 150 minutes of moderate activity – 16% of early deaths could be prevented. Even getting half that amount – 75 minutes of moderate activity per week – could prevent 10% of early deaths due to heart disease and cancer.
The researchers, led by Dr. Soren Brage from the MRC Epidemiology Unit, analyzed 196 peer-reviewed articles which covered more than 30 million participants from 94 large study cohorts. They found that moderate-intensity physical activity – activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster, but still allows you to speak – was enough to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7%. For some specific cancers, the reduction in risk was even greater – between 14-26% lower.
According to Dr. Leandro Garcia from Queen’s University Belfast, moderate activity doesn’t have to be something typical such as sports or running. He suggested instead replacing certain habits, such as walking or cycling to work or school instead of driving, or playing actively with the children or grandchildren. He emphasized that doing activities you enjoy and making them part of your weekly routine is an excellent way to stay active.
The researchers also found that even an additional 500 steps per day was associated with a 14% lower risk of heart disease, stroke, or heart failure. Dr. Brage advises: “If you are someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week a bit daunting, then our findings should be good news. Doing some physical activity is better than doing none. This is also a good starting position – if you find that 75 minutes a week is manageable, then you could try stepping it up gradually to the full recommended amount.”
Cardiovascular diseases and cancer are the leading cause of death globally, so it is important to maintain physical activity in order to reduce the risk of developing them. The NHS recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week.
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